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    Poland’s forest management is a model for the whole of Europe

    Sustainable and multifunctional forest management is one of the largest branches of the Polish economy. Foresters provide constant growth of forest area in the country, not only by logging but also by renewing tree stands and afforesting wastelands. At the same time, they make forest areas available to the public, which is not such a common practice in other European countries. This is why the forest management carried out by Polish foresters is a model for the whole of Europe.

    Poles have a lot to boast about – there are more and more forests, and they are in increasingly better condition. Forests currently cover almost 30 per cent of the country’s area, which is equivalent to over 9.2 million ha. The vast majority (77 per cent) is managed by the State Forests National Forest Holding (Polish: Państwowe Gospodarstwo Leśne Lasy Państwowe) – the largest organisation in the European Union managing forests owned by the State Treasury. For almost a century its objective has been clearly defined – to carry out sustainable and multifunctional forest management. What is it? In the simplest terms, for the layman, it can be said that it is taking care of Polish forests so that the Polish economy has timber, citizens have more and more healthy places to rest, and nature is provided with safe development.


    The State Forests function according to the plan


    One of the elements of sustainable forest management is logging – essential for human life – houses are built of it. What is more, not only are furniture and paper made of timber, but also machines. It is estimated that timber has more than 30,000 different uses. But to source it, the forest must first be cared for and thus the forest management elements such as daily hard work of foresters in pest and disease control, afforestation, forest strengthening, irrigation, animal protection and the improvement of the entire environment are crucial.


    Logging is a process that is prepared by experts very carefully, consulted with local communities, approved by the ministry and included in forest management plans. The plan is drawn up once every ten years for each forest district. It contains the exact limits, type, location and timing of logging so that forest cover in the area is increased systematically. 


    “The size of the logging is derived from the regeneration capacity of the tree stands. Currently, we source about ¾ of what is grown each year. As a result, there are more and more forests, and they are becoming more abundant,” Józef Kubica, Acting Director General of the State Forests, explains.


    Forest management plans are so crucial that at the stage of their creation all citizens have the opportunity to make comments. This is a statutory requirement. Forest inspectorates even organise consultation meetings, where assumptions are presented and then the finished draft plan. This is an appropriate time to have a say and, together with foresters, agree on a management method that takes into account, for example, the recreational value of places where people rest or walk. Anyone interested can participate in such meetings. Forest inspectorates publish announcements on this subject in the local media and post information on websites and social media profiles. 


    Restoring the forest for future generations


    Foresters always manage the forests in such a way as to ensure their sustainability and restoration. Each year, forests are regenerated in two ways. The first and predominant form of regeneration is planting. But from season to season, we see an increasing share of natural regeneration, from sowing. Every year, in the State Forests there are added about 25 million cubic metres of timber over and above what has been logged. That is as many as two new trees for every Pole! 


    The timber resources in forests managed by the State Forests are among the largest in the European Union. That confirms that the State Forests are the main supplier of timber to Polish entrepreneurs and individual consumers. They cover about 90 per cent of the domestic demand for this raw material. Every year, it is purchased from the State Forests by seven thousand domestic companies. As a result, Poland ranks among the top producers of furniture in the world. The State Forests provide orders for small companies and working places for people living in rural areas. The forestry-wood sector accounts for 2 per cent of Poland’s GDP and provides workplaces for 400,000 people. It can therefore be concluded, that the State Forests responsibly contribute to the development of the entire Polish economy.


    As Józef Kubica, Acting Director General of the State Forests, announces: “There are never too many forests and even when we achieve the assumptions of the National Programme for the Augmentation of Forest Cover, i.e., creating the conditions for increasing Poland’s forest cover to 33 per cent in 2050, we will still consistently strive to make Poland even greener. For the sake of nature, for the comfort of Poles’ lives, for the development of our economy.”


    Poland’s forests are for everyone


    Last but not least, in Poland, it is possible to pick mushrooms or berries for free in a state forest for your own needs. That applies to commercial forests, which are increasingly referred to as multi-functional forests due to the numerous needs they fulfil. It is in such forests that foresters have put at the disposal of the public and maintain more than 20,000 km of hiking trails, almost 4,000 km of bicycle trails, around 3,200 parking lots and stopping places and more than 600 camping sites. It is also the free educational offer of the State Forests – more than 1,000 didactic paths, nearly 600 educational sheds and more than 300 educational chambers and forest education centres.





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